Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Committee Chair

Faul, Anna

Author's Keywords

Critical thinking; Pretest; Posttest; Curriculum; Predictor; Social work; California Critical Thinking Skills Test; Outcomes assessment; Graduate level


Critical thinking--Study and teaching (Higher); Critical thinking--Ability testing; Social work education


This study utilized the standardized California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) Form 2000 to measure students' pretest and post test critical thinking abilities prior to and upon completion of a critical thinking infused curriculum. In addition, the researcher also tested a predictor model for students' entry level critical thinking skills, as well as two separate predictor models for students' acquired critical thinking skills. The researcher not only tested each of the models using the total scores, but also for the subscales of analytic, inference, evaluation, deductive and inductive. A paired samples t test indicated there were no significant differences between pretest and posttest scores except for the inference subscale in which an increase was noted. Additional analysis indicated students with low pretest scores significantly improved on posttest; whereas students with high pretest scores produced significantly lower posttests scores. Separate hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to test the predictor models, which allowed the researcher to enter variables into the analysis according to the guiding conceptual models. Specifically, for the pretest and one posttest model, the variables were entered based on the generic variables of undergraduate GPA, months between undergraduate and graduate degree and type of undergraduate school; and the and the discipline specific variables of pretest self-efficacy score, years of social work experience and undergraduate degree. The other posttest model was based on the student characteristics prior to entering the program of undergraduate GPA, months between undergraduate and entry into graduate school, years of social work experience, undergraduate major, type of undergraduate school and the student characteristics while in the program of type of program graduate GPA, mean hours worked per week, critical thinking subscale score. The demographic variables were consistently significant predictors across the pretest and posttest models, specifically White ethnicity. For the pretest models, undergraduate GPA was the strongest predictor across all models, except for inductive where it was still a significant predictor. The demographic variables of younger age and White ethnicity were the only significant predictors for the generic versus discipline specific models. The prior to and while in the program posttest model demonstrated similar findings; however, evaluation did include some additional variables as did inductive. These findings highlight the need for explicit critical thinking learning strategies targeted at not only improving social work students' ability to demonstrate higher order levels of thinking, but also to be culturally sensitive thus minimizing the influence of ethnicity on the development of critical thinking skills.